26 February 2009

Why I Left College.

It would be simplistic to say I was unhappy last fall when I threw away 12 credits last semester and ran off to join my now girlfriend in Florida.

The truth is I was happy- mostly.Most of my life was going well enough, and quite a bit of it was going great. All this ignores one important detail. 

I was half-assing my life. I was taking the easy road because I was afraid of screwing up and somehow ruining everything. So I took the easy path, like so many of my peers, and went to college as a way of escaping the question "what do I do with myself?" 

Since the end of high school and the culmination of my decade or so of depression with a nervous breakdown, I have sought to take responsibility for who I am in a moment and who I will become in the future. While at school I was able to avoid that responsibility by filling my time with friends, classes, and other stuff.

There is probably also some question as to the exact circumstances of my leaving. 

A few weeks before I left I emailed my now girlfriend and co-blogger, Slade Powell. She had recently started traveling the country looking for places to live and grow. At the time she was 100% off the grid at an organic farm in Salamander Springs, Georgia. The Wednesday before I left, she left Salamander Springs and got to some place with wireless Internet. 

She emailed me. She told me if I was in Florida to look her up. I emailed her back, deciding I'd drive down to Florida for a long-awaited hook up and then return to PA. In retrospect, I was lying to myself. So I left. I have not been back to Indiana, PA since.

I'm sure someone is wondering if I think I made a mistake. I do not. Every step I've taken on the long road to growing up has been the right one. Even the mistakes. Especially the mistakes.

I left college because I let myself stay more mediocre than I could be. I don't know if I'm going to be able to make freelancing work. I don't know much of anything about my future except my own intent to grow and become the best man I can be.

So now we're in New Orleans trying to make it big. Hah!

Tales of Bourbon St. Shotgirl

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a thing to behold. Thanks to a last-minute call from a job I'd given up on earlier in the month, I saw it from Ground Zero: a bar on Bourbon St. I was hired as a shotgirl, which means I had a little refillable tray of high-octane shooters in test tubes, which I hawked to the public at large. The more shots I sold, the more money I made. And honey, I made a mint. And lost my voice completely by the end of Fat Tuesday itself.

The bar I was at was part of a chain with three locations along Bourbon. I worked at one location on Sunday and Tuesday, and another one on Monday. This variation in geography allows me to make some fairly well-informed statements about tits.

There was a lot of flashing. A lot. It made my bisexual brain happy, I can tell you that much. What was sad were the people (almost all male) who completely failed at getting flashed. Case in point: On the second-floor balcony across the street from my lookout spot on Mardi Gras itself, there was a private party of 30-something guys in matching costumey pirate hats. They tried to get girls to flash them by chanting "Show us your tits!" repetitively and rating them from 1 to 10 with little construction paper score cards labelled "Boob Olympics." This was not terribly successful. There were moments when a throng of chicks would succumb to these guys' obvious charm and wit, but for the truly staggering numbers of drunks (and many of their number did stagger) on the street that day, their results were pitiful.

Now, I compare that to the other location I was at, which was directly underneath another balcony with another private party. (This was standard; lots of places rented second-floor rooms for the holiday, and lots of those people took the opportunity to strew the streets with beads.) Since I was right underneath, I couldn't see the people on the balcony itself, but damn could I ever see their results. Again, so many boobs. A lot of their success came with viewing flashing as an exchange, instead of a one-way exploitation:* these guys threw beads. And they had some really, really good beads, including really big ones, ones with little plushies attached, and ones with branded or funny-shaped beads, all of which are among the most sought after in Carnival. These second guys didn't stinge or discriminate, either; they threw beads to men, to kids, to chicks who didn't flash them, as long as somebody did something distinctive or cute or whatever it was that appealed to the thrower. And they kept it up for hours. I was there for about 7 hours, and so were they. They kept throwing as long as there was a crowd underneath them. Hell, several times their crowd was so engrossed in getting beads that it got in the way of me selling them more booze. Now, that is success.

The non-Bourbon applications of this apparent dichotomy are interesting and wide-reaching. Steve's gotten on The Social Networking Sites of Dooooooom recently, and maybe there's something similar going on there: to make a friend, be a friend. Give people something for their time and bother, like worthwhile content or eye-candy design. Don't just expect the internet to flash you because it has nothing better to do with itself -- although sometimes it will, mostly if you head off to the spamming-with-porn-sites districts. So remember, Citizens of the Tubes, play nice and share.

*To clarify: I spent these three days selling my sexuality on a street corner for $3 a pop. I'm not saying all girls flashing guys on Mardi Gras because it's a cultural expectation is exploitation; most of them seemed to get a real kick out of it, and plenty of girls refused or drew a hard line at how much skin they would show. I'm calling the first party of guys exploitative much the way I would say it of colonial Britain: they engaged in a one-way delivery of goods without expectation of payment. End of lecture.

12 February 2009

Three weeks in New Orleans: Status report

Well, we've been here three weeks, and here's how it's been.

After a few days at the hostel, we found a great little studio apartment on Carrollton Ave., which is ironically in the neighborhood of Carrollton. (Very clever.) You can expect more on Our Place to come. I'm planning a video tour of it.

Still no jobs for either of us, despite applying all over the neighborhood and elsewhere. We had some excellent prospects that just didn't pan out. The problem is that both of us want to freelance in writing (Steve), art (me), and comics (both of us), but our bank balances want us to get "real jobs." We're working on it. In the meantime, we're both scheduling our time to balance doing what we love with making money.

We'll also be posting a lot more often in the past. Steve and I let ourselves get distracted from the work of blogging, even though we found loads of things worth posting, but that will be fixed soon.

In conclusion, the internet is my blog. This blog is my pants. What are you doing in my pants?